Gov. Bobby Jindal says the federal government should ramp up defense spending and protect the defense budget from the threat of sequestration.
Jindal, a Republican who is weighing a run for president in 2016, unveiled his national defense policy plan Monday in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., that was highly critical of President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a Democrat who is eyeing her own run for the White House.
“Today, we are living with the consequences of the Obama-Clinton ideas when it comes to foreign, domestic and defense policy,” Jindal said. “And those ideas have set America on a path that will create more chaos, more conflict and more wars.”
Jindal outlined his full defense policy in “Rebuilding the American Defense Consensus,” a 27-page paper co-authored by former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent, a Missouri Republican and former national security adviser to GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. It’s the third national policy plan to be released through Jindal’s nonprofit, America Next.
It calls for setting defense spending at about 4 percent of America’s gross domestic product. According to the Congressional Budget Office, defense spending will be about 3.5 percent of the nation’s GDP this year and about 2.7 percent by 2024.
“We must undo the president’s harmful spending cuts, and ensure that our fighting men and women always have the tools they need to succeed,” Jindal said.
Jindal was asked during a question-and-answer portion at AEI after his nearly 30-minute speech what the billions in additional funding would mean for other areas of the budget and other federal programs.
“We have got to fund defense first,” he said. “Our first and most important obligation is to defend our country.”
He said he believes that “entitlement programs” such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security need cost-saving changes.
“We do have to reform and improve those programs,” he said.
Jindal is slated to give a similar defense strategy plan speech at The Citadel military college in South Carolina on Tuesday.
In the policy paper, Jindal argues that the way to prevent war is to make it clear that America is dominant and any potential adversary will lose decisively.
The primary objective of America’s military is to “deter aggression, and if required to fight, to defeat our enemies,” it states. “For that reason, the department should plan for a force that would be dominant in any plausible military scenario. America should never deliberately plan to have just enough strength to win.”
Louisiana Democrats struck back at Jindal’s proposal and his apparent ambitions for higher office.
“This governor has been an abject failure on nearly every policy he has tried to implement, and the people of Louisiana can’t wait for him to leave the Governor’s Mansion,” Louisiana Democratic Party chairwoman Karen Carter Peterson said. “The irony of him offering foreign policy advice is astounding. From what I can tell, he wants to take us back to the Bush-Cheney doctrine of endless wars put on a credit card, saddling future generations with debt and deficits.”
Jindal, who appeared to be reading from prepared remarks while unveiling the proposal, frequently took aim at Obama’s administration, as he’s done in many recent speeches across the country.
“It is always ‘they’ who stand against his noble aims to help the people, ‘they’ who botched Obamacare, ‘they’ who underestimated the threats of ISIS,” Jindal told the conservative crowd at AEI. “For this president, there’s always someone else to blame.”
Elizabeth Sinclair, who identified herself as a “regular citizen” at the speech, called it “terrific.”
AEI vice president for foreign and defense policy studies Danielle Pletka also praised Jindal’s decision to release foreign policy recommendations.
“The world is falling apart, just in case you hadn’t noticed,” she said. “This maelstrom of war, terror, death and disease has implications for every American.”
Asked about the ongoing conflict in Syria and Iraq and the Islamic State group, Jindal criticized Obama’s decision to announce that the nation’s plan wouldn’t include troops on the ground, saying the president should have been more closely guarded with his plan and shouldn’t have ruled anything out at that point.
“We need to exterminate ISIS … it’s about hunting them down and killing them,” Jindal said.